Thursday, May 8, 2003
Lisa Marie Presley
To Whom It May Concern
Lisa Marie Presley has waited until her early 30s to release her first album, and it definitely paid off well for her. Whereas this could be just another attempt by the progeny of a rock god (The King, no less), Presley's album and voice show a maturity that comes from transcending all the history and becoming (it seems with a great deal of angst) herself.
Presley doesn't avoid discussing her father or the difficulty of growing up in his shadow. To the contrary, the brief insights the listener is offered in songs like "Lights Out" and "Nobody Noticed It" show the resentment and general oddness of growing up Elvis' little girl.
But it seems Lisa Marie has had time to live some life of her own--three marriages and three decades of life seem to have seasoned her enough to make her music identifiable, and at the same time fresh. There aren't any songs on this album that Presley herself didn't write, and all of them show clarity and maturity mixed in with her obvious bitterness and pain. Her lyrics sting, such as in "Important," where she says "Maybe if I liked being alone/ I could give you your life back and let you go."
The most startling thing about this album, though, is Presley's voice. Low and husky, practically growling at times, it crashes through the melodies and breathes life into the words. When listening to an album of someone with something to prove, often one goes through a checklist: Is the person talented? Is the album overproduced? Well, yes. And no. Presley's music is stirring, and her first album is thoroughly decent. Perhaps the Princess has arrived.
Music Video Distributors
Punk rock as music changed all the rules for professionalism--competence, stage demeanor, adherence to melody, whatever. Therefore, it stands to reason that the first punk-rock movie would also throw all convention out the window--and this document surely does.
First sprung upon the unsuspecting public in 1976, Amos Poe's Blank Generation (named for Richard Hell's anthem of alienation, which appears in the film) was nothing like anything seen before it, in terms of music video or movies. None of the footage is in sync with any of the performances, the sound was simply live dubs of cassette recordings from random moments or of the occasional studio take, glued onto the visual. Added to this smorgasbord of incoherence is the completely arbitrary nature of the splicings and edits--songs start and finish for no discernable reason, bands sort of appear from nowhere--it was hailed as revolutionary at its release and surely it is.
But is it good? Depends on how diehard a fan one is of the CBGB/Max's Kansas City bands. Patti Smith is ferocious, Television stark, the Ramones are tough, Talking Heads are cerebral and they look young and fresh-faced. Hardly a surprise. And because none of the footage matches the aural, it's hard to get a feel for any of it, and there is precious little by way of audience or club ambience, no interviews or dialogue--even in the bonus Patti Smith footage that is tacked onto the end.
Interestingly, the bands that appear in the film whose actual music was second rate at the time also look minor league as well--one never knew what the Marbles looked like, but they sounded like mop-topped fops and indeed, they were.
Just because it's "art" doesn't make it good. For acolytes only, the rest of the world need only buy these band's discs and imagine New York circa 1975--your imagination and fantasies are probably as coherent.